Dallas Woman’s FMLA Claim Survives Motion to Dismiss on the Pleadings

Under state and federal law, employees have certain legal rights. When an employee (present, past, or even potential) believes that his or her rights have been violated, it is likely that a Dallas employment law claim will result. It is important that such a claim, like any other assertion against a business, be strongly defended.

Facts of the Case

In a recent federal case filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, the plaintiff was a woman who filed suit against the defendant employer asserting violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The plaintiff’s complaint alleged that she developed work-related carpal tunnel syndrome, which she claimed prevented her from performing her job duties.

She further averred that she was entitled to certain salary continuation benefits under a policy of the defendant’s that provided paid leave of up to 100% of regular base pay for workers who were on restricted duty due to an injury or illness. According to the plaintiff, some of the benefits had not been paid, thus prompting her to file suit against the defendant.

The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

Decision of the Court

The federal district court denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint. The defendant’s motion was filed under a federal procedural rule that allows the court to dismiss a complaint when there are not enough facts to state a claim for relief. Under this rule, a claim is plausible only when the plaintiff alleges enough factual content for the court to draw a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable under the circumstances. While the complaint does not have to contain detailed factual allegations in order to be considered plausible enough to defeat a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the plaintiff’s complaint does have to rise above the “speculative” level.

Here, the court found that a plaintiff could bring a FMLA claim under one of two legal theories: entitlement (based on an employee’s substantive rights under FMLA) or retaliation (based on alleged prohibited conduct by an employer in retaliation for an employee exercising his or her rights under FMLA). Because the court found that the plaintiff’s complaint set forth sufficient facts to allege a claim under FMLA, the defendant’s motion to dismiss was denied.

The court was quick to note that its opinion was based only on the adequacy of the plaintiff’s pleadings. It is quite possible that a motion for summary judgment will be forthcoming, requiring the court to decide whether a genuine issue of material fact – not just a plausible legal theory – exists in the case.

Dallas Employment Law Defense Lawyers

Employers face many different types of claims, both state and federal, from former and current employees. It is very important that a business that is facing a claim promptly consult with an attorney about an effective defense strategy as soon as possible. To speak to an experienced Dallas employment law attorney, call Key Harrington Barnes at 214-615-7925 and ask for an appointment. We handle many different types of employment law cases, as well as oil and gas issues, real estate law, and union relations.

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